Chilly temperatures seem to be well behind us (though you
never know here in Indiana!), and we're enjoying the chance to don some sandals
and warm our toes in the spring sunshine. There are no more iconic sandals than Birkenstocks, and fans will be sporting these cozy shoes until fall creeps in. No
one can argue with the evergreen popularity of Birkenstock's flagship styles
like the Birkenstock Arizona sandal, the Birkenstock Gizeh sandal, or the Birkenstock Boston clog. These shoes are trendy, to be sure, but much of their
enduring appeal lies in their luxurious comfort.
How much do you know about Birkenstock footbeds? Many of our
customers love the way Birkenstock footbeds feel on their feet, but they don't
know what it is that makes those footbeds so amazingly comfortable. Others
aren't sure whether the Original Footbed or Soft Footbed is right for them, or
whether they need the "narrow" or "regular" width. Don't
let confusion hold you back from the Birkenstock experience! Here are the
answers to our customers' most frequent questions, so you can confidently
choose the Birkenstock shoe that's right for you.
WHY ARE BIRKENSTOCK FOOTBEDS SO COMFORTABLE?
We've sung the praises of cork footbeds on the blog before, but
here's a recap: Cork is uniquely suited as a footbed material because of the
way it molds to your foot over time. This means that once you've worn your
Birkenstock shoes for a while, the footbed will actually hug the unique
contours of your foot, giving you a truly personalized fit. Cork footbeds provide healthy walking support, which encourages optimal weight distribution and
improves posture and balance. Cork is also shock-absorbent and helps reduce
stress on your joints. Lightweight, flexible, and oh-so-cozy, cork footbeds
will make your feet happy, guaranteed.
Birkenstock Original Footbed: 1) roomy toe box, 2) toe bar for grip, 3) contoured arch support, 4) deep heel cup, 5) EVA sole, 6) strengthening jute layer, 7) cork and natural latex, 8) suede footbed liner.
Some of our other great brands, like Naot and Finn Comfort,
also offer shoes with cork footbeds. So what makes Birkenstock footbeds unique?
Layer upon layer of premium materials! The Original Footbed starts, of course,
with the durable and shock-absorbent EVA sole. Above that, a layer of jute adds
strength. Next comes the supportive footbed base of cork and natural latex.
Another layer of jute wicks away moisture to keep the foot cozy and dry, and
finally, a soft suede* liner covers it all. In the Soft Footbed, there's an
extra layer of foam cushioning just below the liner.
The feeling of cork footbeds has been compared to sinking
your feet into wet sand. Birkenstock takes that idea even further by allowing
room for your foot's natural spread. Birkenstock footbeds' carefully sculpted
contours, including the arch support, deep heel cup, and toe bar, are designed
to encourage natural motion and spread, so it really does feel like you're
walking barefoot along the beach with every step!
*Prefer not to wear or use animal products? Shop the Birkenstock Vegan line! Or, learn more about Birkenstock Vegan shoes.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE BIRKENSTOCK ORIGINAL
FOOTBED AND BIRKENSTOCK SOFT FOOTBED?
Birkenstock Soft Footbed: 1) suede liner, 2) cushioning foam, 3) upper jute layer, 4) cork and natural latex, 5) lower jute layer, 6) EVA sole.
As we mentioned above, the main difference between the
Original Footbed and the Soft Footbed is that the Soft Footbed has foam
cushioning sandwiched between the liner and the top layer of jute. This latex
foam softens your step with millions of tiny air bubbles. If you have sensitive
feet or cannot tolerate the initial firmness of the Original Footbed, the Soft
Footbed is for you! Some customers have found that the Original Footbed offers
the best arch support, but the Soft Footbed is more comfortable right out of
the box. Just note that the extra layer of foam may make your Soft Footbed
Birkenstocks feel a bit more snug than those with the Original Footbed.
DO I NEED TO "BREAK IN" MY BIRKENSTOCKS?
You should expect a break-in period with a new pair of
Birkenstocks, especially if you choose the Original Footbed. While Birkenstock
sandals and shoes may seem a bit firm initially, that's because the cork
footbed needs time and wear in order to conform to your foot. After you've worn
them for a while, they'll still offer the support you need, but they won't feel
Keep this in mind when you purchase your Birkenstock shoes.
If you're planning to take them on vacation or wear them to an all-day event,
make sure to give yourself time to break them in beforehand. You can start by
holding your Birkenstocks by the toe and the heel and bending them with your
hands a few times. Then, wear your Birkenstocks for a few hours at a time over
several days. They should soon begin to hug your feet with the custom
Birkenstock comfort that fans love!
SHOULD I WEAR BIRKENSTOCKS IN NARROW OR REGULAR WIDTH?
Birkenstock's widths are a source of confusion for many
customers. Why does Birkenstock not offer a "wide" width, and how can
you know whether narrow or regular is right for you? According to Birkenstock's
website, their narrow width corresponds to width sizes A-B (B is standard
width) for women and B-C for men, while the regular width is a women's C-D and
a men's D-EE (D is standard width). Birkenstock shoes are naturally a bit wider
than most; this is because they are made to accommodate your foot's natural
spread. So even if you usually wear a wide shoe, you'll likely find that a
regular-width Birkenstock works for you!
One of the symbols at the left can be found on every Birkenstock shoe's footbed, so you can easily tell whether it's narrow or a regular width.
The very BEST way to figure out what size and width of
Birkenstock shoe is best for you is to be fitted by a professional, like the
friendly staff at Englin's Fine Footwear! They have the knowledge and
experience to guide you toward the right fit. If that's not possible, use this
method: Completely unfasten all the straps on your shoe and step into it, then
fasten the straps around your foot in such a way that they are comfortable and
allow your foot some freedom of movement.
WHICH BIRKENSTOCKS ARE UNISEX?
Many Birkenstock sandals and clogs are made for anyone to
wear! On our site, unisex Birkenstock shoes will show the European sizes as
well as the American conversions for men and for women. (For example, a
European size 40 is a women's 9-9.5 and a men's 7-7.5 in American sizing.) They
will also not include a gender in the product name. Some popular unisex
Birkenstocks are the Birkenstock Arizona sandal, the Birkenstock Boston clog,
and the Birkenstock Milano sandal (shown below).
Women's styles include the Birkenstock Gizeh, the Birkenstock Mayari, the
Birkenstock Florida Soft Footbed, and the Birkenstock Madrid, which are all sandals.
UNIQUE BIRKENSTOCK STYLES
Now that you know everything you need to know about
Birkenstocks, maybe it's time to give them a try! Most people picture the
iconic Arizona when they think about Birkenstocks, but here are a few of the
lesser-known yet super stylish Birkenstock options.
Birkenstock Women's Mayari
Birkenstock Women's Mayari in Black Oiled Leather, Golden Brown Birko-Flor, and Stone Birkibuc. Also available in Antique Lace Birko-Flor, Habana Oiled Leather, Silver Birko-Flor, and more.
The Birkenstock Mayari sandal has become one of our
bestsellers from this brand. With its sleek, strappy design, the women's Mayari
offers a fashionable alternative to Birkenstock's unisex styles. The Mayari is
available in three different upper materials: leather, Birko-Flor, and
Birkibuc. Birko-Flor is a soft, leather-like fabric with a smooth finish, while
Birkibuc is made from felt fibers and has a textured surface similar to nubuck
leather. The Birkenstock Mayari is available in a wide range of colors to match
all your favorite outfits! The Mayari sports the Original Birkenstock footbed.
Birkenstock Women's Madrid
Left and Center: Birkenstock Women's Madrid in Black Birko-Flor and Magic Galaxy White Birko-Flor. Also available in Bright White Patent Birko-Flor, Silver Birko-Flor, and more.
Right: Birkenstock Women's Madrid EVA in Yellow EVA. Also available in Green EVA, Navy EVA, and more.
With just one buckled strap, the Birkenstock Madrid is the
simplest Birkenstock slide there is. The upper of the Madrid is made of Birko-Flor,
so it's smooth and shiny, like leather. The Madrid is great for sliding into
when you're headed out the door, or even for wearing around the house like
slippers! We also offer the Birkenstock Madrid EVA, which is an all-EVA version
of the Madrid that makes a great companion to your other Birkenstock favorites. Because it's made entirely of EVA, the Madrid EVA is extremely
durable and washable, and it makes a great beach, pool, or locker room shoe. When you're going to be in or around water, switch out the Madrid EVA for your usual Birkenstock sandals, then change back when you're all dry! Whichever Madrid you sport, you'll love the convenience and subtle stylishness
of this understated slide sandal.
Left: Birkenstock Milano in Habana Oiled Leather. // Center and Right: Birkenstock Milano Soft Footbed in Black Amalfi Leather and Brown Amalfi Leather.
As we mentioned above, the Birkenstock Milano strongly
resembles the Arizona, but it has an added adjustable backstrap for extra
security. While the Arizona's adjustable fit and footbed shape help it easily
stay on your foot, you may prefer the Milano's backstrap for 100% dependability.
Also like the Arizona, the Milano is a unisex style, so anyone can enjoy its
comfort. The upper of smooth, supple leather lends the Birkenstock Milano a
timeless tastefulness. The Milano is even available with either the Original or
Soft Footbed, so you can choose the shoe that feels best on your foot!
Congratulations, you're now a Birkenstock expert! Do you
have any questions about Birkenstocks that we missed? Shoot us an email at
or stop by one of our retail stores for advice from our expert staff!